The primary distinction of the artist is that he must actively cultivate that state which most men, necessarily, must avoid: the state of being alone.
It’s so difficult to get into–and out of your art. I’ve devised an elaborate list of avoidance tactics–and yet I resent the hell out of anyone to interrupts me once I’m in my zen-creating state. I can get downright nasty if you interrupt me in what feels like a mid-genius moment. This push-pull is the life of a writer, the norm for any artist.
Creativity of any kind means spending a lot of time with yourself. In your head, in your work, in your office or studio. It’s quiet. It’s methodical at times. It’s alone. Most writers and artists I know crave that alone time. We vacillate between wanting to get together with other artists and friends and have a beer, hang out, unwind and just talk, and then all that gets on our last nerve and we ache to get back to “our work.”
Artists and writers run the gambit from being introverts to extroverts. Some of us a gregarious, others are downright anti-social for the most part. We’re torn between our need to connect, to get out of our heads, to love and be loved–the the ever present drive and hunger to create.
I’m a Gemini,and if you get into such stuff, it means I live in ambiguity. In some ways (for my art) I wish I were less social. I have a wide net of writer and artist friends as well as an amazing collection of family and friends. I’m glad I have them. They keep me from being too weird, and yet I think my art, my writing suffers at times. I need walls in order to create.
This photo is the garden at Hotel Dieu, in Arles, France–where Vincent Van Gogh was taken after his “ear incident.”
I have a hard time jumping worlds. When I’m creating I want to stay there, in that bubble and not be interrupted–for weeks sometimes. When I’m enjoying a glass of wine, a round table of great conversation, laughter, good food, travel, it’s hard to step over that invisible line and go into the quiet.
To our loved ones, it must feel like we have an invisible lover. The worst kind. You can’t go all crazy, pull a gun and threaten their life if they ever come near you and yours again. Art and the need to create crawls in the bed with you, settles in between the sheets, and draws on the minds and hearts of the creator in a dizzy, heady, sensual lure that few lovers could ever maintain.
And yet there’s nothing like it. The buzz that comes with a new idea. The hum that sings as a story or a painting takes shape. Even the agony is ecstasy. I love it when I hate it. I long to get back to it more than I longed to take a break.
For me, art equals meaning. It gives me a purpose, and that’s great but it can wear on me. It can leave me wondering who I am if I’m not writing. It’s hard to remember that rest and play and space between the words, between the stories is crucial–to me and to my work.
I don’t know if others feel this torn, do you?
What we do is a solitary endeavour – a distillation of our own mind, of our own talent, of our own feelings, and a ripping open of the gut to bear the fruit of our ‘art womb.’